A New Model for Print Newspapers?
I have written many times on the demise of print, particularly in regards to the newspapers in this country. One might think that, having just completed an 18-month political cycle, print might have experienced a bounce in readership. Surprisingly, that was not the case as more and more people looked online for their news. By online, I am not talking about the online version of your local daily newspaper. I am talking about news feeds on Facebook, Google, and other news aggregators who feed us just what we've signed up for.
Against this backdrop, a new newspaper model is emerging, and the New York Times is at the forefront. In 2000, the NYT revenue from circulation was only 26% of their total revenue. Today, it is 60%! For those people who still prefer to read the print version of their favorite paper, they will pay a higher subscription rate if it is explained to them that the paper can no longer survive on advertising revenue.
While we saw almost all newspapers pivot to online revenue when they saw the print handwriting on the wall, there has literally been zero growth in this strategy as online rates are much lower than print and, as stated above, clicks are not growing when readers are looking to other sources for their news (or fake news--but that's a whole other subject).
While these newspapers attempt to find the right business model to survive, they continue to lose money. As they lose money, they are less willing to invest in long-term investigative reporting and we, as consumers and informed Americans, are the ultimate losers.
This is a plea to support your local newspaper if it is a valuable source of news. Many newspapers (including our local small town newspaper) actually discourage readership by restricting their online readership to a line or two of type before you have to "ante up." If I cannot ready a few articles before I invest in a subscription, how can I know if I want to buy the product?